Arsenal beat Aston Villa 1-0 on Saturday but the biggest talking point of the game, once again, was the referee Andy Madley.

Aston Villa's Argentinian midfielder Emiliano Buendia (L) challenges Arsenal's Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England, on March 19, 2022. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Aston Villa’s Argentinian midfielder Emiliano Buendia (L) challenges Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England, on March 19, 2022. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

As we watched Aston Villa players kick lumps out of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe without picking up a yellow card, we joked that Granit Xhaka would get booked for his first foul.

Xhaka then gave away a nothing foul in the first half. The Aston Villa player reacted to give Xhaka a big shove.

The midfielder gave a little one back.

Out came the card, but only for Xhaka.

What was even more surprising than Xhaka being singled out, once again, was the reason he was booked – persistent fouling – despite that being his first (and only) foul of the game.

granit xhaka persistant fouling

The referee even seemed to point to three locations on the pitch to back up his decision to book Xhaka.

I repeat – Xhaka made ONE FOUL the ENTIRE GAME.

If you looked at the stats at the end of the game, you would have been fooled into thinking that Arsenal had given as good as they got.

You would be wrong.

Arsenal’s fouls were silly and innocuous while Villa were raking studs and going in high on ankles.

They were not the same thing.

By the end of the match, the referee had given more fouls against Arsenal (14 v 13) and booked as many Arsenal players as Villa.

The truth was, however, if you rolled all three of Arsenal’s yellow cards into one offence, it still wouldn’t have been half as bad as a lot of the stuff the referee didn’t card (particularly fouls on Saka and Smith Rowe).

Matty Cash got to four fouls, many of which involved going through the back of Emile Smith Rowe, before he got a talking to.

No card ever came.

Ashley Young put in a few fouls on Bukayo Saka before diving and demanding a yellow card for Cedric (which the ref duly delivered).

Young then dived again to try and win a penalty. None of this got him a card.

It was, yet again, another incompetent ref who was well out of his depth.

Backed up by Jon Moss on VAR, it was a total clownshow.

Previous articleMartin Odegaard triggers Real Madrid regret
Next articleGabriel Martinelli breaks Trent Alexander-Arnold
Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.